For herbivores, "where do you get your protein" is often the essential question.
Proteins make up essential parts of our bodies including our skin, hair, muscles, organs, and bones. Many of us have been conditioned to believe that the best sources of protein are from meat.
But the truth might surprise you: not only can you fulfill your daily need for protein entirely from plants, you can also become stronger, healthier, live longer - and lighten your footprint on the planet - as a result.
Plant proteins boost health and athletic performance
Research shows that proteins from plants are actually higher performance than proteins derived from animal products.
The 2018 documentary The Game Changers follows an Ultimate Fighting Champion recovering from injury who discovers that the secret to high performance could be a plant-based diet. He interviews countless athletes who have broken records - from Arnold Schwarzenegger to Serena Williams - by avoiding animal products. But why are plant proteins so great?
Plant proteins improve muscle efficiency. In addition to protein, plants offer the good kind of carbohydrates. These friendly carbs fuel your progress and help you build lean muscle while improving blood flow.
Meat and dairy from cows account for 14.5% of global emissions each year. This is because raising livestock requires a large amount of grain, water, and land (that can't be used for other purposes, such as forested areas that absorb greenhouse gases) and because their digestive systems emit methane as a byproduct. Methane is a greenhouse gas that is 28 times more potent than carbon dioxide.
Protein is an essential element of our bodies, helping us build muscle, strengthen bones, and regulate hormones. However, most people overestimate how much protein they need for a healthy diet.
A good rule of thumb is to have about 50 grams of protein per day. More accurate intake thresholds depend on body weight: the average human needs 0.32 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight to stay healthy. Athletes who are actively using and building up muscle may require 30-100% more protein.
What are the best sources of protein - for you and the planet?
Protein lives in everything from leafy greens to legumes to nuts. We've calculated the efficiency of various proteins for you and the planet to help guide your choices.
Humans have been eating plant-based diets for hundreds of thousands of years - with a little bit of planning and adaptation, you can make a plant-based diet work for you.
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